Day: December 17, 2012

Playing with Dry Ice

Kiki was sick the day they did the dry ice lab in her physics class. Dry ice allows the students to simulate a frictionless environment. In order to help Kiki make up her assignment we declared playing with dry ice to be our Monday night family activity. For safety, I made them all put on gloves. The squabbling began about two seconds after I got the ice out of the bag. They all had very clear ideas about what we should do with the ice, but none of them were very good at pausing to listen to each other. Even with the squabbles, much fun was had as we slid the block across our kitchen counter helping Kiki with her experiments.

Then we explored the joy of plunking the remaining ice into a pot of water. The bubbles of fog were truly impressive. Photographing them was tricky. Two kids had to blow the fog away while I aimed the camera.

Naturally we spent some time letting the fog flow over the sides of the pot and across the counter.

Even this part of the experiment was not argument free. Gleek wanted to catch and swirl the fog with her hands. Kiki wanted to watch the patterns it made when undisturbed. Except when they swapped roles wanting the opposite things. Add in two more kids with desires to stir, pull the ice back out and slide it some more, and a host of other creative ideas… Let’s just say the playing with dry ice is not a conflict free experience with a family of four.

Yet it was completely worthwhile and quite a lot of fun. Sometimes we get to do something really cool. Literally. The dry ice formed condensation and ice crystals wherever it went.

Telling Kids About Bad Things

Howard and I spent most of the weekend avoiding the news. We checked in for updates, but only read them in text. We watched no video and tried to keep to bare facts as much as possible. We certainly did not turn on broadcast news in our family room and let our kids watch with us. For them, the school shooting barely existed all weekend long. Howard and I had several conversations during which we sorted our thoughts and feelings, but we were careful to have those where the kids were not listening.

This morning at breakfast Gleek asked a question which showed that the school shooting was on her mind. This is logical since she would be headed off to school soon. I sat down and reviewed some facts with them. We talked about order of events, details we may never know, and how rare this sort of event was. I kept my demeanor factual and calm while watching to see what they were feeling. Children will adopt the emotional states of their parents and I did not want to send them off to school upset. I also did not want to send them off to school uninformed, because kids talk at school. Some of their friends did spend all weekend watching news and listening to their parents cry. I fully expect my kids to come home more upset and with more questions than they had this morning. This is hard.

There was a moment during this morning’s discussion where I watched my kids realize how terrible this is. When I said that the victims were first graders, a flicker passed across both Gleek’s face and Patch’s. They are older. The first graders are the little kids. So we talked about that for a bit. We talked about how teachers died trying to protect the kids and that their teachers would do the same for them. Then we talked about free agency, which God grants to all of his children, even though he knows that some people will make choices to hurt others.

When the conversation wound down to a pause, I deliberately changed the subject. We moved onward into homework and getting ready for school. Hard things happen. We have feelings about them. We help where we can. We take reasonable steps to increase safety. Then we move onward.